Monday, December 30, 2013
That being said, here are my top 13 books of 2013. These are books that I read in 2013, not that were necessarily published this year.
First Test by Tamora Pierce
I read this book at the start of the year. I thought it was really enjoyable and I went on to read the rest of the series. Most of all, I loved the main character and the character interactions. As much as I would love for this to be on my actual list, I have a really hard time supporting this author. I feel like the first books in her series are relatively clean and lighthearted, only to get trashier with each book. As a reader who likes the clean aspect, I always feel betrayed by her books, which is why I tend to not read them as often or let myself like them as much. Either way, I did really like this book and would recommend it.
13. Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams
I'm not sure if this book is Christian Fiction, but i really enjoyed it. This book is a contemporary something-or-other. I would maybe call it a coming of age or
a romance, but it's not really either of those. Either way, I really enjoyed it and think you might want to check it out.
This book was a great conclusion to a great story. I love the story of Will, Tessa, and Jem. I'm firmly on Team Will, but I think that might be because I'm always for the bad boy. That might not be such a good thing. Anyway, Clockwork Princess is a great book wrapping up a great story. I just love Clare's perfect yet shattered heroes. Give me a Will or a Jace any day.
Bonus points, the author of this book is a teen writer. I really liked the idea of this story and it was generally a great book. Seriously, this is just the kind of sci-fi I love to read. It's really great, fresh and clean. And I think we teen authors need to stick together. I would highly recommend this book!
This isn't a novel, but a writing craft book. I found the section on writing useful, but not world shattering. The section on publishing, on the other hand, is wonderful! This is a book I would highly recommend to any writer, teen or otherwise.
The Heist Society books are my favorite running series. Perfect Scoundrels came out this year and it was even better than Uncommon Criminals. I really liked this book and though it went even deeper into the characters, especially Hale, who is possibly my favorite. (Although I'm a big Nick fan too. *see previous comment on bad boys.)
I actually got to read this book as an ARC that I won from my library. It was so good and I was really sad to see the book Slated come out first. They both operate on the concept of the government wiping teens brains. In my opinion, Slated isn't as good as The Program and I'm so glad it came out! I think you should defiantly take a look at this book, if you can. Plus, don't you love that cover? I can't wait for book 2!
I started this book a few years ago and couldn't get through it. I think it's a book for a little bit of an older YA audience. Not that it has mature content, but that it's a little bit of a slower, more thoughtful book, if such a thing can be said of high fantasy. I'm really glad I read it this year and I am a new Sherwood Smith fan.
The False Prince, the first book in this trilogy, was my top pick last year, but I think first books in series tend to be the easiest to fall in love with. While Runaway King was amazing and fully satisfying, I felt like it was a little more ridiculous, to the point where it was hard for me to suspend my disbelief. In my opinion, this book cemented the fact that this series is a Middle Grade book, not a YA book. I would have liked to see it grow older for it's readers, not younger, but that's okay. I still can't wait to read book 3, but I know I'll be sad to see the series go.
I got to read this book for free and absolutely loved it. I talked about how much I love broken boys that are still beautiful earlier. As much as I do love that, I really loved the broken heroin in this book. Again, this book isn't my typical fantasy read, but I really enjoyed it a lot! I would highly recommend it to any high-school girl.
Who, that reads this blog, wouldn't love a book about a teen writer? This book was really great! One thing I especially loved was how the author used names of actual teen writers that are part of the teen writer community she started in her book. Any time she needed filler names, she used teen writers. Who knows, if you read the second book, The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet, you might even spot the name of yours truly.
I read this book in the beginning of the year. I don't remember a lot about it except that I loved it. Seriously, it's really good. It's kind of a classic romance meets time travel. That might not sound great to you, but trust me, it is! Or actually, don't trust me. Read it for yourself and decided what you think.
The last two books have everything I love in a book, magic, princesses, and a good, old fashioned revolution. I really enjoyed The Spy Princess, even though it's geared toward a 9-12 year audience. (Don't judge. We all read JV books now and then.) I love that this story was a little bit fun, a little bit serious, a little bit far fetched and a lot bit magical.
Finally, my number one pick of the year. I only read this book in November, but it's SO good. It's clean and interesting. It also taught me some things about writing, which I always value in a book. The characters are real, not some perfect human that never makes mistakes, which I really appreciated. The plot wasn't exactly fresh, but I'll always fall for the classic rebellion meets magic type of books, which this certainly is. I liked that this was a book I had no problem recommending to my mom. I think it convinced her that not all YA books are scandalous. (The last two series she read were Hunger Games and Graceling.) All in all, this book is a really well rounded book that's just up my ally.
I'm really looking forward to reading The Shadow Throne this year, as well as the new Heist Society book, though that might not come out until 2015. I'm also hoping Hilari Bell, Cinda Williams Chima, and Cassandra Clare all publish something new this year. That'd be great.
What about you? What are some of the best books you read this year? Either leave their titles in the comments or write your own post and leave the link. I love hearing from you guys!
Thanks for reading!
Monday, December 23, 2013
I was tagged yesterday by Sarah, over at Dreams and Dragons. I had another post planned for today, but this one just looked like so much fun. To complete this tag, I have to post four to six signs of being a writer, without knowingly copying anyone else, then tag as many other bloggers as I want.
So . . . You know you're a writer when . . .
1. When you take time away from playing (and beating) your family in a board game to critique a friend's short story.
2. When you buy as many school notebooks as possible at the start of the year, even though you know you'll never need that much paper for school this year.
3. When most of your Christmas wish list consists of novels and writing craft books and you insists they all be bought new so the money actually goes to the author. (I kept having to tell my mother I'd rather have 3 new books than 5 used. I'm not sure she believes me.)
4. When you're a little disappointed for Christmas, because it means you didn't finish your novel by your deadline.
5. When you're organizing a Twitter chat for teens everywhere to talk about books. That right, I'm hosting what I hope to be a monthly Twitter chat. I'm calling it the Teen Book Chat and the first chat will take place Monday, January 6th at 8:00 PM eastern time. To join us, just use the hashtag #TBkChat. For more information, I've created a second blog. You an find it by clicking here.
That just about sums it up. Hopefully on Thursday I'll do a Christmas book haul, but I guess we'll see what Santa brings.
For the tag, I'm tagging:
Julia @ Julia the Writer Girl
Hannah @ Candy Apple Books
Jillian @ Covers and Ink
Lily @ Lily's Notes in the Margins
And YOU, if you want to join in.
Merry Christmas. I'd just like to leave you with the reminder that Christ is the reason for CHRISTmas and I don't plan on ever taking him out of the equation. You're welcome to feel differently, but that's how I feel.
Thanks for reading! If you're looking for something to comment, I'd love to know your twitter handle and/or what you're hoping to ger for Christmas in the way of books.
Thursday, December 19, 2013
My library, along with a bunch of other libraries in my state has an online database where you can download a temporary ebook or audio file. It's one of my favorite things, because I can read books right when I want to, even if I don't have anything good on hand.
The latest audio book I got was Entwinded by Heather Dixon. Without further ado, here's my six word review of the book.
Who doesn't love twelve dancing princesses?
4 out of 5 stars.
Buy this book on Amazon, B&N, check out the author's website, or add it to your to-read list on Goodreads!
Similar titles include The Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George and Enchanted by Alethea Kontis.
Have you read Entwined? What did you think? If you could sum it up in six words, how would you do it? Any ideas for a book I should read next?
See you Monday! Thanks for reading.
Monday, December 16, 2013
- I have almost 85 followers, but each post only gets 2 or 3 comments. So how often do you read my posts? I'd just like to know. Do you read most Mondays? Thursdays? Both? Only when the title is interesting?
- Are you just a lover of books or a writer as well?
- If you are a writer, what do you like to write? Fantasy, poetry, a little bit of everything?
- How much have you written? Two first drafts, one carefully revised novel, what?
- How long have you been writing?
- What type of blog posts do you find interesting?
- Is there anything you'd like to see more or less of on Inklined?
- Do you read books similar to what you write?
- If not, what are some book genres and common themes you like to read?
- Are you a teenager?
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Things don't seem too bad, though. Especially when Selena gains the attention of the cute neighbor next door. But when her best friend back home in Brooklyn desperately needs her, a secret that's been hidden from Selena for years is revealed, and when she becomes a target for one of her cousin's nasty pranks, she finds herself having to face the scars from her past and the memories that come along with them. Will she follow her mom's example in running away, or trust that God still has a fairy tale life written just for her?
Tessa Emily Hall has also graciously offered to give away an e-copy of Purple Moon to one lucky commenter. To enter the giveaway, you must
1) Leave a comment
2) Include your e-mail address in the comment
3) Be a follower of Inklined
4) Bonus Entry* Leave the link to your Goodreads list with Purble Moon marked as To-Read
5) Bonus Entry* Leave the link to a tweet about this giveaway
Giveaway closes at 11:59 PM EST Monday the 16th.
Thanks so much, Tessa, for coming here today! And thank you guys for reading.
Monday, December 9, 2013
Today I'd like to start with something I recently figured out for myself. A lot of writing advice books and blogs will include something along the lines of "avoid the word was" or "never use passive writing. Ever." Sometimes I just feel bad for the horrible rap the word "was" gets, along with other helping verbs like is, has had, had been, are, and so on and so forth.
As a new writer, I found all of this advice very confusing. I knew not to use the word "was" or the phrase "had been," but I didn't know to avoid the word in a sentence. Often, instead of fixing the problem, I just tried to come up with sentences that didn't use the word "was" even if that meant skipping over what I wanted to say.
It wasn't until the past year or so that I've figured out how to change passive writing to active. One thing that really helped me was what fellow teen writer Nick Hight had to say. He wrote a passive sentence: "The beach was being sat on." Then he wrote an active version of that sentence. "They sat on the beach." Most people would say the second sentence is better. Even if they couldn't put their finger on it, they would say they prefer the second sentence.
So how do you do it? How do you change that passive writing to active? Here's what I've learned.
1) Figure out who or what does the action.
Take the sentence "The inn was noisy." This is a fine sentence. It communicates what's going on in the room. But it's passive. We can make it stronger. To do this, we ask who or what made the inn noisy? Maybe the patrons, maybe just a few drunk old men at the bar. But saying, "A few drunk old men at the bar made the inn noisy," gives you a lot more information than "The room was noisy."
2) Re-arrange the sentence
Let's use a similar sentence to the one above. "The room was filled with noise." Now, put the end of the sentence at the front. "Noise, the room was filled with." I think we can agree that's a pretty bad sentence. It sounds like something Yoda would say. But it might suggest another sentence. To me, it suggests, "Noise filled the room." This sentence says the exact same thing as the first one, but it gets rid of the passive writing.
3) Hunt down your -ing words
Something I tend to do a lot is use a sentence like, "The girl was running." Often, I find that when I use "was" with a word ending in "-ing" I can get rid of both the "was," and the "-ing" and have a stronger sentence. In this case, "The girl ran." Sometimes this don't work, but it does for the most part.*
4) I had had too many had's
Recently, I found a pin on Pinterest. It said something like, "I love English. This sentence makes perfect sense. 'The faith he had had had had no effect.'" While that sentence is grammatically correct, it is not something I would want to find in a printed book. Often, we use too many "had"s. For instance, earlier in the post, I typed "I had wanted to say." Then, I read the sentence over and realized I could take the "had" out and the sentence read exactly the same. "I wanted to say," is still a past tense sentence that still makes perfect sense. Although avoiding or deleting the extra 'had' won't boost your word count during NaNoWriMo, in my opinion, it makes for better writing when you
*) The exception that proves the rule
Sometimes, you need the word 'was.' It helps you describe an action that is ongoing. The sentence, "She was string the pot as we walked through the kitchen," means something a little different than, "She stirred the pot as we walked through the kitchen." They are similar, put in this case sentence one makes you think she stirred the put the entire time they walked through the kitchen, while sentence two makes you think she gave the pot a stir as they walked through the room. In a case like this, I would say using the word 'was' is excusable.
(Just a note, the example in that paragraph was borrowed in part from a writing book I highly recommend, Go Teen Writers by Jill Williamson and Stephanie Morrill. The e-book is currently on sale for $0.99, but I think that only lasts a short while longer. I happen to own both versions, and I can't sing it's praises loud enough. And yeah, it's signed.)
Hope this helps. No one is perfect. In my 'closest I have to a finished,' novel, I have used the word 'was' just under 500 times. I could do a lot better. There are times I use the word 'was' because I don't like the flow of the revised sentences. I'm not saying you can never use passive writing, I'm just showing you how to make it active, should you chose to do so.
I'm planning on writing another post for Thursday, but we'll have to see how my week goes. I will definitely see you on Monday.
I need your help with an upcoming blog post. What are some of the best books you read in 2012-2013? And what genres were those books? Are there any genres you love but can never find good books in? Please leave a comment and let me know. I love hearing from you.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
NaNoWriMo is something I participated in this year. I hope to do so for a long time to come. In my opinion, it's a very good idea for writers to try their hand at. The only time I wouldn't recommend it is if you've never written a novel before, but you think you want to become a novelist. Because if you try it then, you might get burnt out.
This year, I wrote a high fantasy a little bit like the Septimus Heep books by Angie Sage. The first draft is not finished, but I won NaNoWriMo on Friday, November 29 with 50,130 words. This is my fourth novel and something that I think is really cool is that with each book I write, I feel like I get better at something. Maybe that's just because I'm at the start of my writing learning curve, but I hope not.
I'm writing this book to the oldest audience I've ever written a book for. My first book's main character (MC) is fourteen at the start of the book. In The Thirteenth Wizard my MC is only fifteen at the start of the book, but I fell like you can tell this book isn't for children. Although I say I write YA, my other two books are more middle grade (MG) or even juvenile (JV.) This might just be because I'm the oldest I've ever been when I wrote a book, but maybe it's just because I'm getting better at rising the action and the themes, and I don't want younger kids or teens reading such intense stuff.
Another thing I learned during NaNoWriMo is that I can write pretty quickly. If you give me 2 hours, I can churn out about 3K. I have to turn my music up and my wi-fi off, but I can do it. That's something new for me.
All in all, NaNoWriMo was pretty wonderful and I'm really glad I did it this year! My story has flaws. I need to raise the stakes, because right now, if my character fails, it doesn't really matter. I need to tighten the writing, because I used the word "was" 518 times in 50,00 words, which is not good. But I think I have some good things going for me and I'm pretty excited for what this book can become.
What about you? Did you participate in NaNoWriMo? Did you win? Did you finish your novel? Do you feel like you learn something new or get better at something with each draft you write? Leave me a comment and let me know.
See you on Monday!
Monday, December 2, 2013
Last Monday, I talked about How to Dig into the YA Market. Today, I'm going to talk specifically about genre. While it's important to know your general market, I think it's far more important to understand your genre. Some people would say YA is its own genre, and while that's kind of the case, on a basic level I disagree.
The genre I'm going to use as an example is high fantasy, because that's what I write. When you Google high fantasy books, you'll see a lot of the same titles. For me, some of the big names in High Fantasy are Tamora Pierce and Diana Wynne Jones. Both of those authors write great books and they do it well. A few other hallmark books include Eragon, Lord of the Rings, and Chronicles of Narnia. (People would argue that all three of those aren't true high fantasy, but I think they're close enough.)
These are the building blocks for your search. Once you have some books that are similar to what you write, one of my favorite things is to find that book on Amazon and Goodreads. As an example, let's use Eragon, because most people have at least heard of it. If you go to the Amazon page for Eragon and then scroll down to the Customers who Bought this Item also Bought: section, you'll find a lot of good, similar, high/epic fantasy. If you scroll through the pages, you'll find some similar books, including Inkspell, Divergent, Magyk, and Airborn. All of those books are great speculative fiction not set in the present day. They are good books to check out. Goodreads has a similar function.
Another thing you can do is look for author connections. If you're favorite genre writer starts mentioning a book a lot or she mentions another book or author in the acknowledgements of fantasy books. check the new author out. Do the authors thank and other authors? What to those authors write? One thing I noticed was that Cinda Williams Chima tweeted at Rae Carson a lot. I respect Chima's second series and after I read Girl of Fire and Thorns, I also respect Carson.
Keep an eye on the best seller lists for your genre. I talked about best seller lists last week, but they are truly one of the best fiction resources for writers. Just skim them over once or twice a week. See what books in your genre are on the lists and read them.
You can also find lists of books in your genre. Once again, I recommend Goodreads, because the lists on there are voted for by people, so the most loved books are at the top of the lists. Using the example of Eragon, if you go to the Goodreads page and scroll down, you'll see a section marked Lists With This Book. Click the more lists button to see what lists include Eragon. Some of those lists include Best Epic Fantasy, Dragons, Fantasy Books of the 21ts Century, Most Interesting Magic System, Most Obvious Tolkien Imitators, and The Best Fantasy Books. After taking a quick look at these lists, I can tell you there are going to be some books that are in your genre that people consider good high and/or epic fantasy.
And perhaps most importantly, find people who also love your genre. Find an exclusively high fantasy review blog. Share titles with friends who also love high fantasy. Find a high fantasy forum, share latest good titles with your Lord of the Rings loving friend. Word of mouth is still the best way to find good books.
This is less concrete then last week's post, because genre is harder to pin down, but I felt it still needed mentioning.
Thanks for reading. How do you find other great books within a genre you're loving? Are you looking for some titles to read in your genre? If so, let me know what genre you want to read in.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
I posted awhile back that I don't like book reviews, but I still love authors and helping good books get out there, so I decided to write six word books reviews for a few books a month. This is the first one!
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
6 word review by Sarah Faulkner
Among the greatest high-fantasies I've read!
5 out of 5 stars.
I also really appreciated how clean this book was. If it had been an audio book, it would have been one I wouldn't have minded listening to with my little brothers in the room.
You can by the book on Amazon, B&N, check out the author's website or Twitter, or put the book on your to-read shelf on Goodreads.
Similar titles include The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima and Soulboud, by Heather Brewer, both of which I also recommend.
Happy Thanksgiving/Black Friday. Have you read The Girl of Fire and Thorns? What did you think of it? Are you going Black Friday shopping? What are some or your favorite Thanksgiving foods or traditions? Let me know your answers to some or all of those questions
in the comments.
Thanks for reading!
Monday, November 25, 2013
Monday, November 18, 2013
In my opinion, characters are far more important. Sure, you need a good plot for a good story, but unless the characters going through that plot are interesting, engaging, and compelling, no one's going to care if they evade the serial killer who uses an elephant for a murder weapon. (Yes, that is the most interesting plot I could think up that I don't plan on writing about. Sue me. But seriously, don't do that.)
As a MG/YA high fantasy writer, I've always hated character sheets. Character's Job: Um . . . minor. No. Not miner, minor. City: Caravan of traders? Pets: There's barely enough food for the family. Seriously? Why waste money on pets. Sports Played: I'm done.
So worksheets have never helped me. Something that has helped me is asking a few questions, two specifically.
1) For what would this character die for?
For instance, would the mother die for any child? Or only ones she knows? What about the child that hurt and bullied her children? What about ideas? Would she die for her religion? Would she give her life to help an animal in trouble? Would she die fighting for justice?
This question looks at what is, ultimately, important to the character. In my opinion, the character that has more items on this list has a stronger moral compass, but you could flip that idea on it's head. You could have a character who believes strongly in a cause that generally considered wrong, like eugenics. Or a good guy who believed in a thieve's right to steal if he can get away with it.
Generally, the good guy will die for almost anyone. The good guy has a strong sense of empathy. This is why so often the villain could kidnap anyone off the street and threaten to kill them and the good guy would walk right in to the trap. That's just how your typical hero is.
Your villain, on the other hand, might not die for anyone. He might let his daughter be killed before risking his life to save her. That kind of selfishness is a hallmark for villains.
2)Who would this character kill and under what circumstances?
Now, I know that this isn't a question you want to ask about your hero, but try to be honest. For instance, if someone was threatening my life, I don't know if I would kill them. I'm a Christian. I know where I'm going when I'm dead. (Heaven, in case you were wondering) So I hope I wouldn't kill them. But if they were threatening my little brothers' lives? That would be a much harder call.
Find these lines in your characters. Would they kill anyone to protect their vulnerable siblings? Would they kill a young mother with a newborn baby? A child the same age as their siblings?
Would your character kill at all? Is there someone your character would never kill?
There are two TV shows where this is explored really well, in my opinion. The first is the show Once Upon a Time. It's on ABC and you should watch it if you write fantasy. Really you should watch it either way.
*SPOILERS from SEASON 2, Once Upon a Time*
In this show, the main couple, Mary Margret (Snow White) and David, (Prince Charming) vow to never kill. They always find ways to defeat their enemies without death. This is stated several times in the series. But then Snow finds out the evil sorceress in town in responsible for her mother's death. She orchestrates the death of the sorceress, and it is a huge character development.
The other show is Robin Hood, the BBC show. This is another great show I highly recommend.
*SPOILERS from SEASON 2, Robin Hood*
In this show, Guy of Gisborne is in love with Lady Marian. She is pretty much the only person who can still reach Guy on any level of humanity. She doesn't return his feelings, but leads him on, sometimes, to manipulate him so that she can help Robin Hood. Through a series of events, Marian tells Guy she won't ever love him. He kills her. For me, that's when Guy turned from a misunderstood character who might still find redemption to a true villain who can no longer relate to humanity. He lost his empathy.
Do you see how the creators of both shows found the limits of their characters and then found what could make those characters go past their limits? That's good character development, in my opinion. That's how characters and plot should interact.
Maybe you're not writing stories on a life or death scale. Maybe you write contemporary romance. This stuff is still good to know. It can really help you understand your characters.
Don't stop here. Keep finding the lines of your characters. Because when you find one line, you have a character that looks like this:_________________
But with two lines, you can add a second dimension. Your character can become a silhouette.(left) And when you add a third line, you gain that third dimension.(right) And when you keep exploring, and you keep poking to see how far your character will go, can go, that's when you start to not just see the character, but hear them, feel them, and smell them. That's when they leap off the page.(bottom)
So keep poking your characters. Ask: how far they'd go to get their way; how far they'd go to protect their most firmly held belief; how far they'd go for a stranger; what happens when their lines meet and only one can stay unbroken; what would they do to protect the antagonist? If their kitten and the antagonist were both falling on a cliff, who would the hero save?
Hopefully after you think about this for a while, you'll have a better understanding of your characters, what their lines are, and what they'd cross those lines for.
Let me know if this post made you think. How do you get to know your characters? What are some things they would never do? I'd love it if you let me know. Also, if you have any posts you'd like to see, let me know!
Thanks for reading and have a great week!
Thursday, November 14, 2013
This is a bit of a long post, so here's what we're talking about, Readers Digest version.
- Now using only un-copyrighted photos
- New Blog Banner and Button
- Guest Post Call-Out
- Six Word Book Reviews
- Debut Author Spotlights
- Agent Stalker Saturdays
- How to Pronounce Inklined
A few months ago, I made a Pinterest board for Inklined. I only pin things there that I think you guys would like. It's mostly links to blog articles on writing and the occasional funny writer meme. If you want to check it out you can click here.
I also have a Twitter and Google+ account if you want to give those a follow.
I'd really like to change some things around my blog. Right now, it's kind of a journal of what novel I'm writing at the moment, and while that's interesting to me, my big sister, and my grandma, I doubt post after post of it is interesting to you.
I'd like to focus more on you guys, my lovely readers. I want to build a community, start a conversation about the things I love a lot, reading and writing. Because I'd like to get to know you better, I'd love to do one or two guest posts every month. If that's something you're interested in, leave a comment or e-mail me.
My goal is to post every Monday and at least every other Thursday, with guest posts probably on Thursday.
Also, I recently posted about why I don't like book reviews. You can read that post here. But I do like promoting books and giving my brief opinion. Have you heard of 'six word memoirs?' It's an idea started by Ernest Hemingway (according to literary legend). I think I'm going to try six word reviews along with how many stars I give the book. What do you think of that idea?
I'd also really like to bring back both Debut Author Spotlights and Agent Stalker Saturdays. I think those blog features were some of my best/most helpful posts.
One more thing. I've seen the name of this blog written all sorts of ways. Ink Lined, Ink Lined Writers, ect. My address is Inklinedwriters because Inklined is registered to some blog that hasn't been updated in 9 1/2 years. The actual name of my blog is Inklined, which is pronounced just like the word "inclined." Hope that cleared up any confusion.
That's it for now. I'm really thankful for all my lovely readers! You guys rock.
Let me know what your favorite kind of content on Inklined is, what you like to see in guest posts, and what you think of the changes? How have you been pronouncing "Inklined" in your head? If you want to do a guest post, let me know!
Monday, November 11, 2013
This is a thought I've been tossing around for some time, so I Googled it the other day. Because that's what teens in the 21st century do.
According to WikiAnswers, a Mirror Character is,
"A character through which a narrative is told. You see through the eyes of the mirror character, perceiving the world in the story like they do."They're talking about the POV, or point of view, character. That's not what I'm talking about.
Let's use an example, because authors love examples, right? We'll use the the movies and books Lord of the Rings. In this book, you have two characters on a similar path, Frodo Baggins, and Smeagol.
Both of these characters are hobbit like, both find the ring. The ring starts working on Smeagol (a.k.a. Gollum) right away. He murders his friend withing hours of discovering the ring. It turns him into a poor, pitiful, half-human creature.
Three other brief examples are Ender and Peter in Ender's Game, Eragon and Murtagh in Eragon, and Patrick Jane and Red John in The Mentalist, (both are sociopaths.)
Basically, mirror characters are two sides of the same coin. We see them everywhere in fiction. Mirror characters have something in common: a shared experience that shaped them differently, a common goal that they go after using opposite means, or a personality trait in common that one embraces and one squashes down.
These can be some of the most powerful characters, because they are both so real and so human. You can't love one without having your heart strings pulled on by the other. These characters conflict your reader. And a conflicted reader is one who will burn the midnight oil to get to the end of the conflict.
Thanks for reading! What do you think about Mirror Characters? Can you think of other literary examples of them? Do you have them in your writing, or have you never thought about it before?
Monday, November 4, 2013
I'm four days and 6K into NaNoWriMo, so the posts for the next few weeks might be few and far between.
I feel like people reading reviews come to them from one of two paths.
1) They haven't read the book and want to know what you thought of it.
2) They've read the book and want to know if you agreed with them about it.
If I've never read a book, I want to know pretty much one thing and one thing only. Is it worth my time? You can generally get a feel of how well a book is loved by its advantage rating on Amazon or Goodreads. If I'm on the fence about a book and it's in the 4-5 star range, I'm going to read it, probably. If it's 2-3 stars, I'll move on to the next title.
There are some other things I'll want to know. Is it clean? Is it appropriate? But those questions are easy to find the answer to on many Christian websites.
Once I've found this information, I'll purposely stop reading reviews. I don't want to know how the story ends. I don't want my attention drawn to it's flaws. I notice enough of them as it is. Once I've decided to read a book, there's nothing more I want to know about it then what's between its covers. And I'd rather figure that out by just reading the book.
If I've already read the book, I might read a review to see what other people took away from it. If I didn't like it, I'll want to know if that was just me. I'll want to see what so many other people loved. If I did like it, I'll want to know if others loved it as much.
There are two problems with this approach.
1) I have to feel very strongly about the book, one way or another. I have to either love it or wonder why it ever got published.
I don't feel this way about very many books. Like, maybe five a year. And of those, I maybe only look at the reviews on one or two of them.
2) The review changes the way I feel about a book.
This almost never makes me like the book more. I'll feel alright about a book, read a few reviews, and realize I really hated that character that died on make 57, and I forgot how much sordid language there is. I skimped over that poorly written scene and I hadn't realized the dark foreshadowing in chapter 3. All in all, the bad book review convinces me that I didn't enjoy the book nearly as much as I thought I did.
(This happened most recently when I read a book review for The Boy in Stripped Pajamas, which I thought--and still think, mostly--was a splendid book.)
So I have a really hard time getting behind book reviews. I know they help authors, which is about the only reason I sometimes write them. I do my best to avoid reading them whenever possible. I would much rather make up my own opinion on a book.
For me, I prefer to just rate the book out of 5 stars and move on.
What about you? How do you feel about book reviews? If you read them, what do you get out of them? If you don't read them, is it for other reasons? Let me know in the comments.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Today we're talking about starting on books young. Ahem *indoctrination* ahem.
I talked a lot about how much I was read to as a child. I also listened to loads of audio books. My library had a limit of 15 audio books at a time, and I frequently maxed out. (Now I hit the 75 book limit more often.)
I think that reading books by the ton as soon as possible is one of the best things you can encourage a child to do. My vocabulary had immensely benefited from books. Reading for school is easier for me. And I always have time left over on the reading section of my PSAT practice tests.
(I've also become and novelist and bookocholic, but my fellow teen writer support group tells me that's normal.)
All in all, books have given me a community, a dream, and a passion for words and characters.
Now I encourage you to go encourage a child. One who might not have fallen in like with books yet. One who doesn't belong to a family of bookworms. One who is in danger of becoming afraid of squiggly black letters on white pages. Give them a book. Take them to a book store and give them a $20. If they're too young to read, read to them.
I'll leave you with some book recommendations. Some general ones, and some more specific.
Books every child should read:
Mrs. Piggy Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
A Week in the Woods by Andrew Clements
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Spears
Books for young-ish boys that don't love reading:
Rangers Apprentice by John Flanagan
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks
Books for young-ish girls:
Dealing with Dragons by Patrica C. Wrede
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Mara Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Seven Daughters and Seven Sons by Barbara Cohen
And these are just the tip of the ice berg. If you're looking for a more specific book, let me know what you're looking for and I'll poke
Be sure to check out the rest of the tour!
Emily Rachelle Writes--9:00 AM
Lily's Notes in the Margins--1:00 PM
The Ramblings of a Young Author--6:00 PM